What can I say about changes except that we all go through them. Learning how to use the potty is a change and beats peeing and pooping on yourself. Tying my shoes, saying “truck” instead of “f-ck”, coloring in the lines, kindergarten, reading, boys, wearing a bra, getting my period, learning to drive, working, paying bills, living alone, getting married, being married, being pregnant, losing a child, illness, major health problems, divorce, starting over, creating the dream job, adopting, loss, blindness, and being independent are all part of life’s changes at least for me.
The leaves don’t change here in South West Florida and I really miss that. The beautiful colors that were warm identifying a change in seasons and weather to come. Now the seasons are hot, hotter and a slight breeze. I am not complaining but it is bleeping hot most of the time and AC is a necessity and not a privilege. I moved here to be with my family. After I married my family relocated to South West Florida for my moms health. My brother had moved the year earlier and was on his way to a successful career. I remained in New York and was fast on the corporate career track moving at record speed up the ladder. I liked zipping past all the quota’s and expectations but I was becoming more and more impatient waiting to do what I really wanted to do and work with kids. Corporate hours along with a long commute started to wreak havoc on my already poor health. As a fighter I muddled through without it affecting my performance. My marriage was different and my in-laws couldn’t understand why I worked such long hours and wasn’t more of a house wife. Seriously they weren’t paying the bills, adding to my retirement fund, putting money away for vacations, or paying my medical bills. Several months into my marriage I found out I had cancer again and started treatments right away. I also didn’t confide in anyone about what was happening inside my body. My family lived in Florida and I didn’t want to worry them especially since they moved there for my moms health. Mornings began to drag and evenings flew by and I coped at least until I received a call from the doctor that I needed to come in immediately.
That is never a good sign my health already sucked so what the heck was wrong now? Unfortunately for me my office was an hour and 20 minutes away. I raced to the office then waited 20 minutes to be escorted into the doctor’s office decorated with a beautiful mahogany desk and antique chair. We greeted one another and made pleasantries until I couldn’t take it anymore and blurted out “ok, what now”. He rocked my world and everything began to spin my legs went numb and I couldn’t speak. For sure I was dreaming this couldn’t be real, these things don’t happen or do they? “Stacey, Stacey do you understand what I just told you, do you have any questions?” “We need to act swiftly to continue your treatments.” “Stacey, would you like a drink of water?” The room was silent and all I heard was the doctors words repeating over and over in my head.
Pregnant, I couldn’t believe it me pregnant why is he acting as if the world is about to come to an end? Lighten up and be happy for me. Unfortunately my joy was crushed before I could think of names, design the nursery, pick out cute maternity clothes, tell EVERYONE and eat more chocolate since I was reminded that cancer treatments while pregnant cause a fetus to not develop properly and most often cause miscarriages. He recommended that I terminate the pregnancy immediately. To say I was devastated was an understatement. Heat shot through my body as I became protective of my fetus and demanded to know how this happened, how had this have been missed? I had been scanned, poked, pinched, x-rayed, bled dry and not once did anyone hint to me being pregnant. I’ll admit that getting pregnant was a long shot in the first place but I was and I wanted this baby. Unfortunately I was the only one.
The two other doctors in the practice advised me against it and explained that I would need to stop my treatments putting my life in jeopardy. Since we weren’t declaring a truce I agreed to see a high risk pregnancy specialist. I knew it wouldn’t change my mind but if it got them off my back it would be worth it. Three days later my husband and I sat in the specialists office. It was clean, bright, but scary. After several scans and tests we were escorted into the doctor’s meeting room. My husband and I were nervous but optimistic we had talked about the options, for me there was no option which meant he had no option. My husband wanted to follow the doctor’s advice until he realized he wasnt going to win this battle. With all of this running through my mind the door opened and in came the doctor. He was probably in his early 50’s, pleasant. When he spoke it was obvious that he was an expert in his field as he discussed the many chromosomes and abnormalities that a fetus could suffer after a small amount of radiation. He laid out my treatments to date then calculated the amount of radiation I had been exposed to and therefore my baby. He excused himself from the room to allow us to study the information instead I cried my eyes out while my husband didn’t say anything. I think he was in a state of shock and I was the complete opposite my heart was heavy and my mind raced it was as if my heart and head were battling it out in a duel. There were no winners in this match instead choices needed to be made and I had to make them.
My husband and I did not agree about how to proceed he wanted me to receive my treatments and I wanted to let my baby grow and have a chance even though the doctors emphatically disagreed. The specialist gave us all the documentation to take home and look over before we made a decision. My next appointment was in a week so I had a week to convince my husband I was right and he needed to have faith.
Not being able to share my news was tearing me up on the inside plus I might have been able to generate a supporter or two. My daily life went on with work, being a wife and being sick. The upside is that I didn’t have treatments scheduled that week so I was feeling slightly normal, whatever that is. Tick tock it was time to see my specialists to go over everything, give them my decision and get a plan in place to move forward. My husband and I were still not in agreement but he knew it was useless to attempt to engage me on this matter. My husband didn’t want the added stress of a sick child along with a sick wife. I’m sure he was hoping the doctors would persuade me to follow their recommendations. Each of the specialists went over the medical issues and their protocols and impatiently waited for my response. With confident looks on their faces and feeling that their combined medical mumbo jumbo speud of course I would cave in. I thanked them for their expert medical opinions but I was no longer interested in my treatments I was only interested in my baby. The room erupted my husband walked out shaking his head and mumbling under his breath. After much back and forth a new plan was put in place to begin testing my fetus for size, growth rate, proportions, and disease. I began to feel like an act at the freak show. Since my doctors worked out of a teaching hospital everybody wanted to follow the lady with cancer who was pregnant with the “radiation fetus.”
Obviously the news wasn’t good but I still couldn’t bring myself to terminate the pregnancy. It wasn’t long before things kept coming up and my health started to decline plus I was bleeding and couldn’t hold down food. I was admitted to the hospital to be monitored. My husband was annoyed and didn’t speak other than to tell me “you are killing yourself and I can’t handle a sick kid and you sick.” The hospital wasn’t giving out frequent sicko miles but that didn’t stop me from going in and out several times until I went into labor and almost bled out. I don’t remember anything other than waking up and hearing those damn alarms on the annoying machines they hook you up to. My treatments started again and life went on it just wasn’t the life I wanted.
After a few weeks I went back to work and never told anyone about what I had and was going through all I did know was my life had changed. My job no longer excited me nor did my marriage and lack of support from my husband on top of all that my family was in Florida and I knew I needed to be surrounded by them. It was a Friday that I quit my job and called my family to tell them that I would be there in a month.
Life changed and continues to and now I welcome change with optimism not fear. We don’t get what we want we get what we need.